Mamta's Kitchen

Forum Thread - Are edible silver leaves vegetarian?

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Surendra, on 17/8/2005 10:25pm

Dear Mamta,

For your info in India VARAK is made by beating silver pieces in between the underskin of sheep

the technic for beating silver between paper does not exist in India


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Mamta, on 18/8/2005 07:19am

Hello Surendar

If this is true and if it becomes widely known, it will create a huge stir in India. 'Chandi Varak' is eaten by the strictest of Hindus in India and often used on sweets offered in temples.

What a story!! Almost like the bullets containing beef/pork grease that resulted in the mutiny of 1857! If Hindus knew, use of 'Chandi varak' will disappear overnight in India!


Hardik, on 20/9/2005 07:09pm

Dear Mamta,

From what I have seen, old habits and tastes are usually hard to counter just as they are hard to die.

- Here are the list of references that mention about the manufacturing process of silver foils (varak/varakh) - see part A (Article A2 is from The Hindu newspaper).

- Even makers of sweets acknowledge the non-vegetarianism of varakh and specifically mention their non-usage in their sweets - see part B.

- There are active anti-varakh campaigns - see part C (and look for "Varakh").

- And lastly, there's a manufacturing plant setup to mechanically manufacture vegetarian varakh in colloboration with a German company - see part D.

A. References for manufacturing process:




B. References by sweets makers:


C. References for Anti-Varakh campaigns:


D. References for alternate process of manufacturing:


So far I have only seen Catch Silver/Gold Leaves as the only 100% vegetarian varakh. Needless to say it will probably be more expensive compared to varakh widely available in the market.

In best interests,


Mamta, on 23/9/2005 07:11am

Thanks Hardik

I had a quick look at all the sites you refer to. If one is vegetarian, it would be simpler to stop using silver leaves altogether. After all, it does not enhance the taste, only looks!


laxmi, on 28/9/2005 07:14pm

Dear Madam,

I have studied your comments about the subject, please let us know which country or company is manufacturing edible silver or gold varak by machines without the use of any animal product even intstines too, so that the conventional methods be removed by using the latest technology and the debate be end. Thanking You.

My E-mail address is:[email protected]

Sundrystar, on 29/9/2005 10:01am

If the leaves are washed before they are placed on the sweets, which I would think they are other wise they taste of the intestines, then shouldn't they be save for vegetarians?

Isn.t this the same sort of question as when a vegetarian eats food cooked in a pan that may have been used to previously cook meat (washed)?

A moral question may be raised by vegetarians, on the use of cattle intestines, meaning that the cattle have to be killed to provide the intestines used!

indianvegan, on 2/10/2005 03:47am

Yes,Silver Varak in itself is Vegetarian.

But be careful, if you are Vegan or Strict Vegetarian,you should not use

Silver Varak,as I have seen its making here in Indore in one of Jain temple. I got shocked to know that Silver Varak or Gold Varak are being made by beating Silver Sheet/Gold Sheet in a bundle of 100 or 80 bundle of some kind of film or sheets made by Animal Intestine and Gelatine. This bundle cost around Rs.10000/-.Animal Intestine are changed in to like that.

The fellow who was making Varak did not allow me to take picture or video of it.

I wonder,why this Varak is used in Temples??

If you are interested to know more about Animal free life style and diet.You may visit my website also.

We are running a Vegan Education Center at Indore.

Manish Jain

Neena Jain

NKM, on 11/10/2005 10:21am

Unfortunately from my research on silver varak recently did state to me that it is not suitable for vegetarians as they do use cows/ox intestines to beat the silver. As far as hindus are concerned we do not eat beef and to make varak they do use cows/ox intestines which according to my research if you put the varak under the microscope you will find traces of blood, stool and saliva of a cattle/ox.

Candy, on 7/11/2005 09:55pm

Hi ! I am amazed by the research done by people like Ravi, Mamta Manish and Neena and Hardik about the Chandi varak and how its not good for purely vegetarains, Since I am in USA, (where you don't get much sweets) I never thought about this.But today when my husband and one of our friend(we allour vegetarian) raise this question, I found ou that infact it is purely NON-Vegetarian. I am really shocked.

I don't know what people in India are serving on the name of religion and vegetarian. God Bless India and Indians.

Request-Please don't eat chandi varak or use , anyway it is not giving you any nutrition. And a question of common sense that gold and silver itself are so costly, how can normal shopkeepers (mithai wala's) afford them.

Thanx .Best Wishes.


Shah, on 29/11/2005 02:52pm

This is a very nice discussion. I was just debating with my wife on this Varakh production process. She was insisting that she read it somewhere but it was hard for me to believe it as everybody said it is offered to god. But after searching on net and reading this forum I had to agree on this.

Nice work guys who have posted here and who is working to get rid of this non-veg Varakh.


Anvi, on 9/1/2006 05:22pm


This has been an excellent discussion. This has helped clear a few doubts.But i still wonder what chandi varak does this DS Group make as given in one of the websites earlier.So how does that yet prove that the varak used in jain temples n commonly used in sweets does not come from the DS Group.Since the DS Group claims to be the only manufacturer of vegetarian varak electronically therby without usage of any animal intestines etc.Maybe the jain temples ues the varak sourced from the DS Group.And maybe many sweets are also coated with this same varak.



Anvi, on 9/1/2006 05:24pm


This has been an excellent discussion. This has helped clear a few doubts.But i still wonder what chandi varak does this DS Group make as given in one of the websites earlier.So how does that yet prove that the varak used in jain temples n commonly used in sweets does not come from the DS Group.Since the DS Group claims to be the only manufacturer of vegetarian varak electronically therby without usage of any animal intestines etc.Maybe the jain temples ues the varak sourced from the DS Group.And maybe many sweets are also coated with this same varak.



Askcy, on 9/1/2006 09:16pm

it appears my original guess about a coating was on the ball...

Many many English sweets contain Gelatin/Gelatine and it makes me wonder how many vegetarians eat them without realising its made from boiled down bones and tendons!

Yogesh, on 23/1/2006 03:12pm

Hi the basic fact is, in India Varakh production is not regulated, hence there is no way of knowing if it is obtained purely by mechanical means (no animal product used) or by disgusting and cruel use of animal product (skins/guts). Therefore, all vegetarians who really care about their state of vegetarianism should stop eating anything containing varakh.

And for those who say that well there is a machine now that produces varakh so all verakh is vegetarian, they are just using .out of sight out of mind. principle just like majority of meat eaters to continue satisfy greed without the need.

So just say NO to Varakh.


Yogesh, UK

Nez, on 11/2/2006 03:06pm

well let me tell you what i remeber froma documentary on DD-1 .

The manufacturing process:

The silver block is kept in a leather block and beaten till it is flat . The time of beating depends on past experience of the worker. once it is converted in foil it is not touched by hand and is odirectly trasfered to a paper or plastic layer.

I am sure there is no need for the intestine as leather serves the purpose to beat a metal like silver which is highly malleable.

I think this all hype is created by a few people who do would not take the pain of going and visiting a manufactuing facility and just search net where you will find the same article on every hit .

And for vegertarians i have think there are alot of things which we eat without knowing howit is made. and there is use of some animal part at some point of manufacturing.

such as sugar cleared to the white crystaline colour by filteration through gelatin which is manufactured from bones, skin, cartilage, hoofs and other animal tissue (ususally calf and swines). It is used to make capsules and milk formulas for the infants .

So tell me what all can you stop eating .

important factor here is the hygiene level involved. But i would suggest to all bloggers that before they send out such mails please authenticate what you are supporting .



mm, on 1/3/2006 05:36pm

i have just read these threads please go to this website and look for the topic about it

many thanks

laxmi jain, on 20/4/2006 10:57pm

Silver foil or varak used for decorating sweets, fruits, chocolates, confectioneries, betel leaf, areca nuts, condiments, amla (Goose berry) paste, chayvanprash and prepared vegetables etc. has more than just a pleasing look to them. It is made by placing several thin silver or gold metal small strips between gold/ silver beater’s cow skins. These very neat, clean and smooth skins are generally of 5-1/2 inch square and prepared from the outside membrane (skin) of the fresh brutally slaughtered cow or ox (Bull) large intestine because no other animal in the universe is suitable for such skins. The silver metal pieces are then pounded one by one between these square skin pieces and in this way 160 packs are prepared and then packed in a leather bag generally made of sheep or deer skin and capable to bear the continuous hammering carefully by a heavy metal hammer at least for three hours or till the metal strips in between the skins become “varak” (foil) of the desired thickness and then these silver varak of size 4”x 4” are carefully transferred on a special paper for marketing. As the silver metal pieces are hammered continuously between two “Cow intestine skin pieces” for about three hours, so certainly it is contaminated with micro fragments of the skin embedded in the varak and thus it becomes a Non- Vegetarian product.

Mamta, on 21/4/2006 06:48am

My conclusion on this is that each person has to decide for themselves. Not that long ago, washers in the water taps used to be leather, still are in some places. Many desserts have animal gelatine, which we eat without realising/asking. I have no doubt that foods/drugs etc. come in contact with leather and other animal products. So, let’s each choose what we want to do, without anyone else making us feel bad about our choices.



Kandarp Oza, on 11/5/2006 05:36am

Until last February, I had never thought about Varakh (Silver Foil) being non-vegetarian. I never liked it in first place.The I had read somewhere along the line in the last decade or so that the human body doesn't digest silver and this silver foil used on Sweets just progress through the intestines.

In February, when I was in India, I ran across an article in a newspaper (Times of India, Ahmedabad?) that addressed the issue of some Guru selling Ayurvedic medicines containing animal and human bones. This article pointed out a lot of things vegetarians take for granted but contain one or other form of animal-derived product. Absolutely amazing. Being a strict vegetarian and even a vegan for a decade, I felt like I need my own farm, grow my own grains and vegetables. But then again, how would I be sure that the seeds I buy at least initially did not come from some kind of genetic engieering and contained some animal products?

Any thoughts? Any interested parties in joining a "commune" (not a communist commune but maybe a capitalist commune)?

e-mail address:

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Mamta, on 11/5/2006 06:58am

Kandarp Oza

I am sure that you are right, in that silver varak (beaten silver leaves) is passed through the intestines without being absorbed. Although gold and silver are used in many Indian, Ayurvedic medicines, they ar used as gold and silver salts of one sort or other, rather than their pure form.

I know about the story you mention, this ‘some guru’ is Swami Ramdevji Maharaj. Just to put the records straight, he was falsely accused by some person with a political agenda, his medicines were tested extensively and he was exonerated. No human or other bones were found. It was some disgruntled political person who falsely accused him. His medicines were investigated extensively.

I have met the man, though only once. He lives very near my mum’s and brother’s place in Haridwar-Roorkee, where I visit twice a year. I often go and visit his herb garden, a peaceful place. He lives simply, travels around India, teaching Yoga. I have had the fortune of attending one of his classes at his old base and learnt Yoga from his T-V programmes and DVD. I now practice yoga, to my benefit. He promotes, produces and sells Indian herbal medicines, which work for some people, not for others. People flock in their millions to his Yoga teaching camps around the country.

Personally, I wouldn’t give up my medicines for herbs, but I am sure he is not a fraud. I am sure some medicines work. On my last visit, I visited his new yoga ashram, Patanjali, just a week before it was due to open. It is a beautiful complex. Let’s wait and see and reserve judgment on how well it works, or not.

I respect your vegan/vegetarian interests and desire to produce your own food, which you know everything about. However, we have to trust someone at the end of the day. Otherwise we will all have to become strict Jains, even filtering our breath through a mask, incase we inhale and kill some insects, even germs.

Good luck with your own vegetable farm, growing your own is a lot of fun.

Thank you for your invitation, but I for one, am not into joining any communes, religious or otherwise. I prefer to listen to all and choose what I like from it and ignore what I don’t :-).

Take care!


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